Why I do PowerPoint

There’s been a bit of a hoo-hah on Twitter today about PowerPoint (PPt). I think it began following this post from Jo Facer, which makes some fair comments. This led to a share of a previously written, more balanced argument by Robert Peal. I certainly agree with points in both, but not all. Here’s why I think we shouldn’t be so hasty in dismissing the use PPt:


1. It provides a structure for lessons – note the term lessons. I often have a PPt that spans more than one lesson and based on the content that needs to be taught. I don’t see a problem with planning via PPt, so as long as the time spent is on thinking about the order/structure of content. Taking the time to think about the structure helps to organise my thoughts and enables me to move information around to suit the needs of the class. It’s as if I am putting my schema to paper (figuratively speaking). I could use other means to do this, but the PPt serves as a prompt during the session and means that the risk of learners missing out on crucial information is minimised.

2. The ‘visual’ argument – there’s no denying the vast body of research supporting Paivio’s Dual Coding Theory. I used to be guilty of putting reams of text on slides, which I proceeded to read to my learners and wondered why they never remembered anything. The issue was that whilst I read aloud and learners read the text (self talking), all information was entering working memory via the verbal pathway. Having developed a (basic) understanding of the theory, I began to change my approach, ensuring that more visuals were used to support explanations rather than text. Where visual information can’t be used, I keep text to a minimum, emphasising key points only. Having the visual means that the two pathways to working memory are being used, thus less of of burden for the learners (as shown below). PPt is a platform that enables me to quickly create or add visuals, meaning that all I have to concentrate on is explaining it clearly.


3. Animations – I’m not talking the swirling and whirling of individual letters which take ages to create sentences. No, I’m talking animations to grab learners attention, to direct them to important components of visuals as they are being discussed. I have blogged about this here, but the Clark and Lyons research is a much more comprehensive read on this. Whilst there are many other ways to direct attention, PPt can be used really effectively to do so.

4. Everything in one place – Another benefit of PPt is that I can place my quiz, my content, links to reading, learner task instructions etc all in one single place. I can upload this to the Virtual Learning Environment and if learners wish to access anything, it’s all there for them. The fact that everything is in one place also helps keep my OCD in check.

5. Aesthetics – I must admit, I am guilty of putting too much time into the aesthetics of my PPts. I have got better at making the information less of a burden on the working memory; gone are the GIFs, the tenuously linked images, and text heavy slides. In spite of this, I still like to have clear, crisp, well designed slides. The fact that I put effort into making my resources look nice probably won’t get me any thanks from anyone, but with the care I place, I know that the spellings will be correct, the animations will support the learners at the right time and (I’m going to throw this out there) it’ll probably engage the learners a little more (by engage, I mean grab their attention). Whilst this probably makes no odds to the learning, it’s far better than my handwriting on a white board.

To summarise, bad PPts are bad. Similarly, bad teachers are bad; as are bad pens, bad textbooks and bad technology. There is another way and I strive to be at the opposite end of the continuum.

Teaching in New Zealand: shattering some myths

By Dr Ursula Edgington

I researched endlessly before our move to New Zealand 3 years ago. The exciting prospects that came with my husband’s new job in commerce included new academic opportunities for me. Escaping the pressures of constant nonsensical paperwork and an overwhelming teaching and marking workload seemed like a dream come true. Like lots of migrants here, we were swayed by the Government rhetoric (propaganda?) about a reportedly egalitarian education system based on holistic approaches to teaching and learning. And the promise of a healthier work/life balance with long weekends in beautiful landscapes and empty, sunny beaches….? impossible to turn down. But inevitably idealised visions of working overseas – especially in the sparsely-populated ‘paradise’ of Aotearoa New Zealand – comes with a realisation that not everything is quite what it seems…

Image source: https://goo.gl/VCegZg

Contrary to many people’s perceptions, New Zealand is not without its social problems. Reflecting similar issues to the UK, the gap between rich and poor widens. Low salaries and the high cost of living causes extreme pressure on many families; education is a not a priority. In the last 30 years, child poverty has doubled to 28%. Not surprisingly then, the OECD estimates 40% of New Zealanders don’t have the UK equivalent of level 2 in basic literacy or numeracy skills. And with no ‘NHS’, those already living in poor quality housing who can’t afford medicines, suffer diseases wiped-out a generation ago in the UK (like Rheumatic Fever). Mental health too is a serious problem, with high rates of depression inevitably leading to high levels of alcohol and drug addiction. It’s tragic that rates of suicide here are actually similar to the UK, at around 11 per 100,000 population. It’s an artificial and unhelpful (and some would argue tokenistic) ‘biculturalism’ (rather than multi-culturalism) that is the Kiwi buzzword, replicating socio-economic problems divided between ‘skilled migrants’ and the Māori/Pacifika communities.


You will know all too well, these issues – and more – impact significantly in complex ways on our learners’ lives and on their self-esteem and self-worth. It’s sometimes challenging to provide a safe, positive learning environment in this context.


But one of the unexpected challenges of teaching here is more sociological than psychological: Tall Poppy Syndrome. Often played-down in Kiwi jokes, Tall Poppy Syndrome is a common cause of bullying in the New Zealand workplace – and especially the educational workplace. The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary defines it as the act of “’cutting down’ those who are conspicuously successful or who are high achievers”. But for some employees – especially teachers from the UK who (let’s be honest) usually have to ‘big ourselves up’ just to survive in a fiercely competitive environment – it’s far from humorous and can often have a catastrophic impact on lives and families of bullying victims. Worryingly, research suggests bullying in New Zealand is a serious problem compared to international indicators.


So singling-out ‘tall poppy’ practitioners with ‘best practice’ is a big no-no here, and this stigma has a knock-on effect of restricting the sharing and reflection on classroom ideas. My own research is based on lesson observations – a quality control/assurance strategy so pervasive and contentious in the UK, but which is rarely actioned or even discussed here, perhaps partly because of Tall Poppy Syndrome.  


So after shifting on its axis, my ground has settled into this new challenge ahead. I’m faced with a dilemma: how can teachers encourage learning and development against this dispiriting backdrop? In our new smart-phone, information-mad world, knowledge drives success. But what if this success is limited or dismissed? The pressures from global competitive markets are seeping into New Zealand’s education system – slowly.  But how can students reach their true potential and outcomes improve when ‘good teaching’ (and research surrounding it) isn’t recognised or even acknowledged? When instead it’s ‘stamped out’ because some people fear that ambition might lead to others facing competency measures?


Are there any lessons to be learned from the UK that will help New Zealand challenge and overcome Tall Poppy Syndrome in its colleges and universities? I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.



1. Ursula is an independent researcher, tertiary teacher and published author, specialising in education and accountability. She has recently published a book based on psychosocial research into staff experiences of lesson observations in Further Education in England. Full academic profile: available here.
2. Employment law in New Zealand is under-developed. Culturesafe NZ Ltd is one example of an organisation with objectives that include preventing workplace bullying through training initiatives and supporting victims. For further details see: http://culturesafenz.co.nz/

10 tips to maximise learning support

This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts on my blog. It is written by my good friend and experienced Learning Support Assistant (LSA), Paul Warren.


Rarely do teachers have the opportunity to explore how to work effectively with LSAs (or equivalents) in their classrooms. Both ITE and ongoing staff development sessions often fail to emphasise the importance of, and methods to enhance, the working relationship between teacher and LSA, resulting in ineffective utilisation of this key role (not in all cases, but many).  In this post, Paul highlights the pivotal role that LSAs play and he provides teachers with 10 great tips to maximise their use:

Image source: http://www.civilserviceworld.com/frontline-learning-support-assistant
‘At some point during their career, many FE lecturers will have an opportunity to work alongside a Learning Support Assistant (LSA). Usually, but not exclusively, LSAs are tasked with providing 1:1 or small group support to students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities by offering learning strategies which help them to access the curriculum. Above all, however, the ultimate aim of most LSAs is to promote independent and autonomous working for the students that they support.


The most effective LSAs are those which seek to work closely with the lecturer and the student to gradually reduce the need for support with a view to ultimately removing it altogether. This can create a range of possible issues – not least of which being that the LSA should expect to make themselves redundant – but the overall impetus is on helping the learner to maximise their potential to work independently.


Of course, some learners will require support for the entirety of their time at college, but there is no harm in working with the expectation that all students will be able to work more independently before their course of study ends.


Often lecturers may not have had any in-depth instruction or training regarding how best to work with LSAs. Finding information isn’t always easy. FE-specific literature or research relating to working with LSAs is scarce, but there are some schools-based studies (see the excellent Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) Project) or smaller scale FE research (see LSIS/Natspec’s highly valuable Enhancement of Learning Support) which may prove helpful. Excellence Gateway have also produced a really useful guide which can be used to gauge the impact of support staff via their Working With LSAs Audit Tool. In addition, a search on the Education and Training Foundation’s website will yield a range of resources for working with students with SEND who need support. Other additional useful and relevant sources include The 2010 Equality Act, the 2014 Children and Families Act – including Education, Health and Care Plans and The FELTAG report which, in part, highlighted the importance of providing assistive technology for FE students who need it. More current FE-specific research and general awareness is needed, however, which promotes the benefits and value of using LSAs to promote independent and autonomous working in Further Education.


In the meantime, the following suggestions may be useful to lecturers to help kick-start a collaboration with LSAs with a view to reducing support and increasing learner independence:

  1. Work with LSAs to review current records of student needs – particularly pinpointing any known learning strategies which encourage the learner to work independently.
  2. Cultivate high expectations of the learner by immediately working with LSAs to try to identify what independence from support might ultimately look like. Use what you find in conjunction with your identification of student needs as a guide for each session and review regularly.
  3. Agree an absolute maximum level of support that LSAs can provide before an issue or difficulty must be referred directly to the class tutor. Be clear with LSAs (and the learner) that the LSA should never do the work for the student.
  4. Identify an early target for the learner to interact directly with the lecturer at least once during every session. Increase over time in order to reduce reliance on LSAs and gradually prepare the student for the time when the support is withdrawn.
  5. Produce a measurable method of identifying the impact of support. This could be a chart or record of work that records instances in which the student does a task independently or requires minimal LSA input. If possible, actively involve the student in evaluating their own need for help and use the data to plan future support.
  6. Encourage, praise and reward students when they work independently and use successes to promote future independent learning
  7. Work with the LSA and the student to produce a portfolio of independent working strategies which the learner can take with them to further study or employment.
  8. Liaise with teacher trainers, quality managers and senior leaders to share successes of promoting learner independence and reducing LSA support.
  9. Work with your Learning Support team to build a database of what works for learners in your subject and use it to inform future individual student support needs.
  10. Share ideas and successes via social media platform such as Blogs, Twitter or YouTube (remembering to respect individual student confidentiality and identity) and get in touch with other colleges to find out how they reduce support and promote learner independence.’


So there we have it. Why not consider how you can develop each of the above points. Thanks go to Paul Warren @paulw_learn for this excellent post.

Do we need to know about learning theory or not?

Yes… well kind of…

Learning theory provides us with a why for the what. When we teach learners, we expect them to know the why for the what, so why wouldn’t we expect the same of teachers?

Link to image source
The problem that many practitioners face is that they probably haven’t studied learning theory since their teacher training, and I’m certain that in some cases, much of that was ‘guff’ (Gardners MI, learning styles, learning pyramids etc etc). Much of the theory that I was taught has been debunked and I don’t even know if what I was doing as a result of learning the theory was particularly useful or not. Aside from this, there are so many theories (see above image) that it becomes difficult to determine what is useful to know and what isn’t.


For this reason, I recommend that the minimum that all teachers should be armed with is some objective evidence of how students learn best. I have previously written about the different types of evidence you might use to determine how students learn (here). If we know that the reason we are doing something in our classroom is because there is some objective evidence to show that it works, then we should have confidence that we are likely doing the best for our learners. If on the other hand, there is no objective evidence, or evidence that refutes something we are doing, then perhaps we need to consider what we can do better for our learners (I’m not saying that the more subjective evidence is wrong, but there might be something we can do that will be more effective). So where can we get the more objective stuff?


Below you will find a range of the more objective evidence that I use. I have summarised each and given a subjective rating out of 5. My rating is based on the security of evidence and how useful it is for a classroom practitioner.


Article/ Research Summary My Rating
Dunlosky et al (2013): What works, what doesn’t


This document ranks some of the more effective study strategies from cognitive and educational psychology, specifically with HE learners. It’s a very accessible and a go-to document. *****
Rosenshine (2012): Principles of Instruction


An overview of 10 key principles of instruction, informed by research on master teachers and cognitive science. Gives the reader classroom application and the research base. ****
Deans for Impact (2015): The Science of Learning


Based on the research of cognitive scientists, this is another go-to article for my trainees. The content is clear and accessible with great classroom application. Informed by *****
The Learning Scientists (2016):

Six Strategies for Effective Learning


Six of the most effective learning strategies from cognitive science are simplified and visualised. Highly accessible and available in a variety of formats for teachers and learners. *****
Hattie (2012):

Visible Learning


This isn’t a link to the book, but a pretty good review. There is a wealth of research informed strategies covered in the book. Despite a lot of criticism for his methods, this is a good starting point for understanding what is typically more effective in the classroom. ***
Marzano et al (2001): Classroom Instruction that Works


This is a link to the complete book. The work summarises a wealth of classroom based research. 9 research-based strategies are explored with a thorough coverage of the research and a range of applications for the classroom. A big read, but great book. ***
Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit


This toolkit for practitioners summarises classroom based research into 3 key elements – cost, research security and months impact on achievement. Some of the research methods used by the foundation have been scrutinised, but certainly worth exploring as a starting point. **
Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education (2015):

Top 20 Principles from Psychology for PreK-12 Teaching and Learning

This offers twenty key principles for teaching and learning based on psychology. It is accessible, but a huge document. Each principle is explained with relevance to teaching. *****


A need to understand cognitive architecture.

Understanding the basics of human cognitive architecture is essential to understanding effective instructional design, but how many teachers can actually remember anything about it (that’s if they were even taught it in their teacher training)?


Whilst there is little concrete evidence for what I am sharing, after decades of psychological studies on memory, there is a general consensus amongst psychologists, along with some empirical evidence about how memory works. Much of this stemmed from the work of Atkinson and Shriffin (1968), followed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974), which I have attempted to visualise below (I did this for my students, the document can be accessed here should you wish to use):



Produced by: Dan Williams @FurtherEdagogy with reference to Kirschner et al (2006)


With instructional design we need to understand how we can use the aforementioned information to plan and deliver information to learners that will maximise their learning. I have blogged about some instructional design approaches previously, here, here and here, though for me, the Learning Scientists and Oliver Caviglioli have really nailed it with their six study strategies.



Minimal guided instruction

Using problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching is likely to be ineffective with novices. 


My last post explored the difference between novices and experts, demonstrating that they think and act very differently due to a contrast in their knowledge and experience in a subject area.


In Further Education, specifically in vocational areas, learners arrive with little to no knowledge/experience in their subject. Take Engineering, Automotive, Hair and Beauty and Construction for example – likely to have never been studied previously.  Then there are subjects where there may be prior knowledge/experience but many misconceptions, for example English and maths. Therefore, learners are arguably still novices when they join us…


The thing is, there seems to be an obsession in FE to teach learners as if they are experts. CPD sessions across the country are riddled with the promotion of minimal guided instruction methods such as: discovery based, problem based, experiential and inquiry-based learning. I get it, I really do. We are trying to reach an audience that is getting hdownloadarder to reach, so if we can make the learning interesting and give learners more autonomy, then we might just crack the problem…

‘You will assume the role of a Wella colour expert and figure out what is wrong with Deirdre’s highlights’


The problem is, we are not doing them any favours by doing this. Once learners have a solid foundation and begin to develop expertise, then these approaches to learning may be very effective, as they can draw upon prior knowledge/experiences to assist them with their learning. Novices on the other hand don’t have this knowledge and experience to draw upon. In fact, it is likely that they will have misconceptions about the subject that, when applied to a problem based activity, may result in further confusion.


Future posts will examine effective methods of guided instruction, but for now I introduce you to a paper by Kirscher and colleagues explains in greater depth why minimally guided instruction is not an effective instructional design for those with limited knowledge. I have attempted to summarise this visually below:


So to end my post. Many of our learners are novices and need guided instruction. When they are experts, we can reduce the guidance we give.

*Also, I’d like to add that I’m not completely averse to this type of instruction on occasion, when I feel that learners have sufficient knowledge.

Principles of Instruction 

Avid readers of my blog will know that I’ve developed a real liking for cognitive science. I’ve summarised key reading previously, here.  Another key reading for teachers, I feel is ‘Principles of Instruction‘ (Rosenshine, 2012). Not only does this draw upon cognitive science, but it also takes the best from classroom research and cognitive supports. I believe that any research that draws upon and finds themes across a range of evidence is worth a read to support teaching practice. In this blog post I aim to summarise each of the principles identified in the research, with some practical application.



A year in the making…

A year ago I restarted my blog as a way to find my voice again. Blogging really has helped me to develop as a practitioner. Not only does it allow me to reflect on my practice, but it also means I have to read A LOT! I’m not complaining, but boy have I read. Reading more has given me more knowledge about education related topics. More knowledge has allowed me to be more critical of these topics and this has supported me to improve as a ‘research informed practitioner’. Moreover, I’ve been able to support others with accessing the research by writing about it in layman’s terms.


Upon starting my blog again, my intention was to write a blog per week, but I fell short of my target with a mere 49 (including this one). I’ve had nearly 12,000 views (which is a drop in the ocean compared to some, but I’m happy with it for the first year). This coming year will see me exceed my goal, with a weekly post, in addition to a new feature (coming soon). Furthermore, I am branching out to other social media platforms to increase the views. This isn’t about numbers so much, but about creating more dialogue around my posts and supporting others to access crucial information about learning.


In celebration of the 1st year, I’ve chosen a selection of key posts that I feel have had the biggest impact on both myself and others. Some have been popular and well read, others not so, but all very valuable:

  • My first blog postLess haste, less speed‘ – this was the start of my new blog and developed upon a theme that I had written about in a previous blog. The post questions why we are always in a rush to teach learners information and for them to make quick progress with it. This set the scene for the blog and it has been viewed 234 times.
  • A lot of effort went intoSchemes that make a difference‘ – in this post my aim was to support teachers with their planning by drawing upon a sound research base. I wrote this alongside a training session that I was planning. The post and the training session has been cited by many as being really useful to them. This post has been viewed 672 times.
  • My most popular post ‘Formative assessment – is it a silver bullet‘ – I think I almost broke the internet in the first 4 hours of it being published, with over 400 views. It drew upon research to provide a critical analysis of Wiliam’s 5 key strategies to formative assessment. Whilst my views have changed slightly, the post is one of my favourites and an easy read for understanding how to do formative assessment well. It has been viewed 1023 times.
  • My famous postObservations – is the boot on the wrong foot‘ – This was published and within a couple of days, the TES FE editor contacted me to feature it in the paper for the following week. It is an alternative view of observation based upon my experiences with my daughter. Viewed 464 times.
  • The most dialogue generated post Action research: A recipe for disaster?‘ – This post generated a lot of discussion on Twitter and WordPress (well, for me anyway). I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say in it, but intended on it being thought-provoking and a little contentious in – which it was. It has 479 views.
  • Most useful to trainee teachers postApplied and simplified – Top 20 principles‘ – In my role as a teacher trainer in FE, I work with individuals that have fantastic subject knowledge, but lack pedagogical knowledge AND the time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Therefore, it is my job to support them in accessing key information, and what better than summarising a key piece of research from cognitive psychology. I have actually got my trainees doing a similar task (summarising key research) and feel that this is essential to their development. Viewed 174 times.


So stay tuned to my blog because it is only going to get better – here’s to another year!


When I was a youngster, my nan collected her spare change in a huge glass bottle for me. At the time, I think the bottle was probably my height – it was huge and made of thick, clear glass. Every so often she would allow me to pour the contents of the bottle out and count it. This was the fun part!  Once the money had been counted, the arduous task began. This involved getting the coins back into the bottle; grabbing a handful at a time and slowly releasing them into the bottle neck. The main bottle could hold what seemed like endless amounts, but getting the coins in was no easy task.


The more I did it, the more I realised that if I collected the same coins together and put them into small piles, the more efficient I could become as they would slide in smoothly, rather than attempting to drop a load of random shaped and sized coins in, which would fight to get in through the bottleneck.


In 1956 George A Miller asserted that our capacity for processing information is limited to seven, plus or minus two pieces of information. This later led to the working memory model by Baddeley and Hitch. Essentially, the working memory (WM) is the narrow bottleneck to the huge long term memory we have. The working memory can only handle a limited amount of information at one time (much like the bottleneck can only handle a limited amount of coins) and therefore, the more efficient our methods of teaching are, the more we are likely to minimise ‘overload’ in order to aid long term memory (the endless bottom of the bottle).


Chunking information for learners seems an obvious way to do this, doesn’t it? How many of us do though? I am certainly guilty of trying to cram lots into lessons from time to time, leaving learners bamboozled and actually causing me more work later down the line. Here’s some ideas as to how you might ‘chunk’ the learning to support learners in processing information more effectively in lessons:


1. Firstly we need to understand what our learners already know. If we can link the new information to this, then we can reduce the burden on WM. Using multiple choice quizzes at the start of lessons can provide you with some information on this. Furthermore, knowing other things about your learners is always useful for analogies and metaphors.

2. Secondly we should try to chunk information so as not to burden the WM of learners (we can do this best following the above). This might include:

  • organising key concepts visually for learners in advance of the teaching (advanced organisers). For example, showing how the concepts/components of a topic relate to each other to form the whole.
  • breaking concepts down into their component parts (chunks) for delivery. For example, breaking a skill down into its simplest form before building each part together once mastered.
  • using mnemonics – further information can be found in a previous post here
  • using analogies and metaphors to help learners to link new information to prior knowledge. As mentioned above, the more we know about what our learners know, the more we will be able to link new learning to it. More information can be found here
  • using visual representations of things being explained, so that both the visual (visuo-spatial) and the auditory (phonological) information can ease the burden on the WM. See further information here

3. Finally, we need to be conducting regular formative assessment to ensure that we are monitoring the learner’s WM. We can then determine whether further support is required to address misconceptions, or whether we can move forward with additional learning. A post on formative assessment can be found here.


So when attempting to maximise the impact of your teaching, try thinking about getting a load of coins into a bottle*

*The astute of you may have noticed what I’ve done in this post…

Pyramids of DOOM!

You’ll be aware of my pessimism lately with regards to many things in education, so here’s another to add to the list. Anything that is in a pyramid should be treated with caution! There, I’ve said it. The fact that something is represented as a pyramid seems to give it a legitimacy; “it must be real, the pyramid said so”. Unfortunately, I’m not so convinced and in my humble opinion, the only place we should see pyramids is in Egypt…and Mexico…


I must admit that I’ve been as guilty as the next person of falling foul to things in pyramids. I like diagrams to explain concepts and I like being told that my problems will be solved by following a new strategy (even though I don’t actually have a problem to solve). Let’s look at some pyramids that we might want to be wary of:


1. The Learning Pyramid:


This bad boy has been used in many a training session advocating active learning. “You only retain 5% of what you hear!” Scientific looking, clear information and in some ways believable information, but actually this is just one unsubstantiated mess.


The so called ‘learning pyramid’ actually turns out to be a cone of learning which was created by a chap called Edgar Dale in the 50’s.  Dale’s Cone of Experience is a visual model that is composed of eleven (11) stages starting from concrete experiences at the bottom of the cone then it becomes more abstract as it reaches the peak of the cone. Also, according to Dale, the arrangement in the cone is not based on its difficulty but rather based on abstraction and on the number of senses involved. The cone was made more appealing and nicely rounded off percentages were added by Mobil oil company in the 60’s with no scientific research for them. Essentially, it’s impossible to conduct a study to determine the effectiveness of each of these and compare and is therefore is a load of tosh.


2. The Hybrid Pyramid:

The Learning Pyramid-729955

This is my favourite one – the hybrid pyramid of learning styles and the learning pyramid combined! Let’s hope you’re not an auditory learner, otherwise you’re stuffed according to this. If you haven’t read my recent post on learning styles, then check it out. If you have, then you’ll realise how nonsensical this thing is.



3. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs:


Another creation from the mid-20th Century. Basically Maslow implies that we must meet all levels of the hierarchy in order to achieve what he coins as ‘self-actualisation’. Whilst this sounds very believable, it surely can’t be true. In fact, the differences that exist between cultures and age groups provide no support to his hierarchy. Once again, appealing, yet no scientific base for the research but instead research based upon his own interpretations of ‘distinguished individuals’ (typically white upper/middle class males). Ironically, this is heralded by humanists – yet its linear, broad brush approach to achieving ‘self-actualisation’ seems rather behaviourist in nature.


4. Blooms Taxonomy:


Whilst the better of the ‘pyramids of doom’, this is yet another one that is style over substance. The taxonomy (which according to some isn’t even a real taxonomy), assumes that all learning will take place in a linear fashion from remembering to creation, omitting both the psychomotor and affective domain of learning. We’ve all been told to make our learning objectives move from low-to high order using Bloom haven’t we?


This brilliant 99 second review of Bloom’s taxonomy highlights some key problems with the validity and reliability of the model. Moreover, Marzano informs us that ‘the hierarchical structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy simply [does] not hold together well from logical or empirical perspectives’.


In conclusion, if you want to use any of the above in your planning and delivery then fine, but don’t restrict yourself to them, and certainly don’t be a snake oil salesman.